In an ongoing effort to keep our community informed, I want to update you about our local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis and resulting “shelter-in-place” order have had a sudden and severe impact on our lives, and I hope wherever you are located that you are healthy and enjoying the support of loved ones. This crisis has also been a huge jolt to our local and regional economy. During this unprecedented time, Mountain Village Town Council and staff are working together to understand and respond to the ever-evolving needs of our community.
Financial Impacts Due to these sudden and ongoing closures, the Town of Mountain Village is anticipating major revenue shortfalls in sales taxes and other sources for the remainder of the 2020 budget year. After a strong first quarter of sales tax revenues, the town is projecting a major hit to sales tax revenues due to COVID-19 closures and the unlikelihood of group activities being allowed well into the summer. Local sales tax proceeds made up 51% of revenues for our town in 2019, and we estimate that sales tax revenues could be between $1.5 to $2.2 million less in 2020. Additionally, we expect to see reductions in other revenue sources, which could be as large as the sales tax revenue reductions.
Our primary goals at this critical point are to preserve and enhance safety, provide essential services, and maintain town infrastructure while offsetting potentially $4.5 million in lost revenues. Over the last few weeks, the Town of Mountain Village drafted and began the implementation of a revised budget and COVID-19 Recession Policy. This policy outlines revenue loss parameters that will then trigger pre-identified spending reductions. The enactment of these measures was not taken lightly, and we ask our community to be sensitive to the impact these temporary measures will have on your neighbors and municipal service levels.
Based on the adopted COVID-19 Recession Policy, Town Council has deferred most 2020 capital infrastructure projects, placed all non-critical staff on a leave of absence, reduced and/or temporarily halted all non-essential municipal services, eliminated all travel and training, implemented a hiring freeze, and initiated additional temporary budget reductions. Because of the nature of this pandemic, Town Council chose to continue providing all employees who have been placed on a temporary leave of absence with health insurance benefits.
Should the town need to make up for larger revenue decreases, evaluation of additional service cuts and staffing levels may occur through the remainder of 2020. Our focus is to have a measured approach that adjusts with evolving information in these challenging times. These initial steps will help us navigate our financial responsibilities while we gain a clearer understanding of actual revenue shortfalls and potential financial assistance needed by our community.
Community Crisis Support Due to the sudden financial stress that the COVID-19 pandemic presented to many in our community, Town Council understands the need and responsibility to provide financial assistance and stimulus to Mountain Village families and businesses. Many stimulus programs are under consideration but it is key that any measures we take to assist our community are effective, meaningful, not duplicative of other sources of support, and help us meet our long- and short-term recovery needs.
- The Business Development Advisory Committee, which was created to develop plans to support existing TMV businesses and attract new ones, has pivoted to concentrate on helping existing businesses during this difficult time. A survey is going out to medium and small businesses this week to determine what help our businesses are receiving from outside of town in the form of the CARES Act and state and regional sources; what help is not yet available but needed; and what ideas they may have to help them now and in the future.
In addition to reacting to this crisis we know we also need to plan for when we will be able to reopen our town and businesses, slowly and responsibly. It is crucial that we work closely with our businesses and San Miguel County to determine how best we can support those efforts. This will be the work of the next few weeks. We invite your thoughts and ideas for how we accomplish our goals.
- Remittance of sales tax owed for February through April has been suspended until the May 20, 2020 filing deadline, at which time all these back taxes are due; however interest and penalties during the deferral period will not be charged. Sales tax reports must still be filed on time.
- Three weeks ago, Town Council waived the entire April rent payment for all Village Court Apartments residents. We know that many of our residents will continue to face financial hardship and uncertainty, so Town Council has asked staff to create a Hardship Application and Process for VCA residents who are struggling to make full rent payments. More information about this program can be found here.
- To ensure that all Mountain Village children have the tools to keep up with their schoolwork we are providing free WIFI coverage throughout Village Court Apartments and have installed internet modems for several families throughout the Village.
- Town Council approved $25,000 in additional funding for the Mountain Village Farm to Community subsidized community-supported agriculture/CSA program. Additionally, councilmember Marti Prohaska continues to spearhead our community outreach efforts and works directly with our transit and community relations team to deliver school lunches and food bank baskets directly to Mountain Village families during this time.
- And lastly, late charges continue to be suspended on all utilities, Mountain Munchkins, and Village Court Apartment accounts.
For more information on other ways Mountain Village is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to submit your questions or concerns, please visit townofmountainvillage.com/coronavirus. As the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation continues to evolve locally, we will continue monitoring how we can help our community and local economy weather this crisis. We continue to commit to work closely with San Miguel County Commissioners and the San Miguel County Public Health Office to evaluate our procedures and operations in an effort to minimize our community’s risk while continuing to provide the vital services we need.
I am very proud of how our community – residents, businesses, property owners, and our town employees – have responded to this pandemic and I know that by working together we will get through these challenging times stronger and closer. Please join me in expressing appreciation to our front-line responders, community volunteers, and employees who are working tirelessly to keep us safe and moving toward a brighter future.
The next few weeks will be challenging, so continue to support one another, reach out for help when you need it, and prepare for a healthy future. Please continue to reach out to me, Mountain Village Town Council members, and town staff with questions, concerns, or potential assistance you may need or can offer.
Mountain Village Mayor